IF YOU GO
What: Wednesday Addams has a boyfriend. The family does not approve.
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday & Wednesday, 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. & 8 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday
Where: Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, 13350 Edison Parkway, Fort Myers
Cost: $65, $50, $40, $30
Information: Call 481-4849 or go to bbmannpah.com
Information: Note the extra matinée performance on Thursday and no evening performance on Sunday
Something Else: Parking is sometimes chaotic because of evening classes at Edison College. Park farther out and escape the after-show traffic jams.
On the Web: More theater news at The Stage Door blog
Da da da dum (snap snap). "The Addams Family." You want a verdict? Not bad. Pretty good.
Da da da dum (snap snap). Sitcom. Very sitcom. Which it is. (snap snap). Memorable? Not at all. (snap snap). Fun? Absolutely. But Morticia and a ghost kick line? That's entertainment. (snap snap).
Vic Mizzy's memorable theme leads off the overture. The family snaps through the opening "When You're an Addams" number. This is one show that KNOWS from whence it came - television - and doesn't pretend otherwise.
For better or for worse, "The Addams Family" never escapes its hokey, cornball sitcom beginnings. The show feels like "a very special episode" of the series; Wednesday has a boyfriend and wants to get married! Cue family crisis, visitors from Ohio (GASP!) and Pugsley sabotaging dinner with one of Granny's potions! Oh noes! Will it all be sorted in time for the local news at 10 p.m.? (Yep. You're out by 9:50!
"Addams" got a major overhaul between Broadway and the road; producers worked on the plot, songs, lyrics and dance numbers. The correct buzzword for this show? Kooky. The show drills that vibe like an arrow from Wednesday's crossbow. Just ... two hours of kooky goes a long way.
Not to say the show can't offer a solid night of entertainment. It can - and does. It just isn't Shakespeare. Every throwaway joke the writers could haul out of the rooms of 0001 Cemetery Lane finds a home; the stage show inexplicably moves the house to Central Park. Obamacare gets a shout-out, as does Edgar Allan Poe short story "A Cask of Amontillado." Unexpected jokes work best, like the monster under Pugsley's bed or a surprise visit from Cousin It.
Resurrecting the Addams ancestors as a singing, dancing chorus of the dead makes for a dazzling stroke. Ghostly white costumes from all eras of history provide lively backdrops for "One Normal Night," "Secrets," "Full Disclosure" and "Tango de Amor." The goofy ghosts prove full of fun - especially illustrating the ways they died.
I wish the show offered more - both as far as plot or musically. Of Andrew Lippa's tunes, only ditty "The Moon and Me" truly connects. Sung by Shaun Rice's Uncle Fester as he romances Luna, the plaintive piece captures the whimsical, carefree nature of the show. Ancestors in striped 1920s bathing costumes twirl lacy parasols as Fester sings; theater magic lets Rice levitate in the air, joined by a chorus of singing stars. Truly, one of the night's sweetest, most genuinely touching moments.
Another standout moment comes courtesy Keleen Snowgren's elegant, busty Morticia. Sulking after a tiny white lie from Gomez, she decides that death is "Just Around the Corner." Kudos to the audience member who yelped with glee as the actress explained the pun "just around the co-ro-ner," earning a nod and a curtsy. Snowgren ticks off all the lovely ways that Morticia would like to die, then joins another kick line of ghosts for a sassy, fun number. "One unplanned electrocution / that's the kind of end / I can comprehend."
Jennifer Fogarty brings a clarion voice and sharp timing to Wednesday. Her steely stage presence helps sell the simplistic plot and gives depth to the show. Bryan Welnicki pairs well as fresh-faced, corn-fed boyfriend Lucas Beineke. Their portion of the "Crazier than You" duet and the cutesy, melodramatic William Tell apple and arrow scene feels about as authentic as it is going to be.
Galloway Stevens, a frequent face in Southwest Florida venues, recently joined the tour as one of the ghostly ancestors and the understudy for Gomez.
Funny, silly, goofy, a little kooky and kinda fun. It's not the most wonderful thing on the block, nor the smartest piece of theater you'll ever see - but I dare you not to smile at a show that so brazenly wears its heart on its sleeve. And I ask you to ponder this: "How does Morticia's dress stay up when it's cut clear to Venezuela?"